Louis Pepper joined Lancaster City Council as the Council’s first legal apprentice in 2012. He is part-way through an intermediate apprenticeship in legal administration. Here he talks about why he chose the apprenticeship, how he is getting on so far and his plans for the future.
What drove you to apply for an apprenticeship with the Council?
In my final year of school I was faced with the daunting prospect of choosing a career path. I could take the traditional route - sixth form, university and hopefully a job. Alternatively, I could opt for immediate employment or vocational training.
The university route was daunting. The price of higher education was getting higher and the level of student debt was following a similar curve. The prospect of money in my pocket from immediate employment was tempting but not certain. Indeed, immediate employment did not necessarily lend itself to development of specialist skill or knowledge (or at least the probability of acquiring such skill was less certain). In the end I chose to study painting and decorating at a further education college.
Solving practical problems and undertaking practical work was enjoyable but not academically challenging. The prospect of undertaking practical academic work was intriguing and the catalyst that drove me to apply for an apprenticeship with Lancaster City Council.
Why did you want a career in a legal department?
Prior to applying for the apprenticeship with the Council I wasn’t looking for a career in a legal environment; in fact the thought of it hadn’t even crossed my mind! However, since I’ve started working here I’ve come to enjoy the study and practice of law. I have especially enjoyed the challenge of learning how law is interpreted and how the facts of a case can lead to differing legal opinions.
What do you do? What do you enjoy?
Each day is quite different. A lot of the work I do is administrative, which involves sorting through the post, taking telephone messages and photocopying. There are numerous other tasks I do such as drafting letters, researching points of law and preparing trial bundles. Sometimes I get to look at cases and make a summary on whether or not I think a prosecution is possible.
I especially enjoy attending licensing and planning committee meetings and court cases. This gives me more of an insight into how the English legal system works, the functions and practises of local government and how judicial and administrative decisions are made.
How does the apprenticeship work?
The apprenticeship is run by Damar Training. My Damar trainer/assessor, Cindy (who is a lawyer by background as well as an assessor), comes out every month to see me and to see how I’m doing. This gives me the opportunity to ask her questions about anything I’m unsure about but also gives me a chance to express any concerns or worries. Working with Cindy I am building up a file of evidence that shows my competence across the range of administrative and legal tasks that I do in my job. The other part of my course focuses on building up my legal and administrative knowledge and is tested though exams. This part includes a thirteen week CILEx course on the “Legal Environment” which is where I learn about the English legal system and European law.
Where do you want to progress?
At this current time, I am unsure where I want to go after this apprenticeship is completed. However, by undertaking this apprenticeship I have given myself greater options and opportunities. It means I could progress to the advanced or even the higher apprenticeship in legal services, which would help me if I wanted to become a Chartered Legal Executive or even a solicitor.